Tories under fire

PUBLISHED: 10:47 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

SIR – Yesterday we received a copy of Westminster Report from our Conservative MP. The newsletters from the main parties are usually economically produced newsletters delivered by local volunteers. This one however is strikingly different: it is four fu

SIR - Yesterday we received a copy of 'Westminster Report' from our Conservative MP. The newsletters from the main parties are usually economically produced newsletters delivered by local volunteers.

This one however is strikingly different: it is four full-colour pages on high quality paper and was obviously very professionally and expensively produced.

Its distribution was presumably also costly and professional as it was delivered with commercial material. I am sure most of your readers will have one too.

The question all this raises is how a local party manages to pay both for the item and its commercial distribution.

It does say in very small print at the end, if my magnifying glass is working properly, that it has been 'financed through allowances available to the Member of Parliament'.

It says neither from whence these allowances come nor whether or not they form part of money available to candidates other than sitting MPs.

In any case it might be better if this particular MP were to avoid this subject of MP's allowances when compiling her blurb, even if it appears in minute print.

One possibility, bearing in mind that St Albans is a marginal seat, is that this is funded by Lord Ashcroft's campaign.

The idea here is to flood resources into marginal seats. If the local Conservative party is receiving funds from such a source, in the interests of democratic balance, local voters should be informed.

In any case the sources of Lord Ashcroft's donations are less than transparent and nobody in the party, least of all Mr Cameron, will say whether or not the noble peer lives in the UK or pays taxes here.

Even if only a part of the local Tory election expenses comes from the centre, we should be informed as this peer, with such a dubious tax reputation, gave about 10 per cent of the total donations to the party last year.

For those really interested in the predictable contents, our local MP is seen sitting amicably with important people from First Capital dis-Connect.

In view of their ability to take money from us all while failing to provide so many of the trains they timetable surely, if she has any share of Mrs Thatcher's mettle, she should be shown assaulting them with her handbag.

I suppose that, not living here, she is probably not aware of our little local problems.

The really bizarre thing is that she describes how she managed to persuade the Labour education minister to berate Hertfordshire County Council for not providing enough schools.

I think it is perhaps rather patronising to assume that the voters here will blame the HCC's failings on the present government.

The Conservatives on Herts County Council have a vast majority - 55 out of 72 councillors and so should be blamed for their failures.

Those who lived here through the last Conservative government will remember that three local secondary schools, at Wheathampstead, London Colney and Redbourn, were closed.

The development of the Wheathampstead school site for housing is going on at the moment so it is good to know that the family silver is still being sold by the Conservatives regardless of local educational needs.

It would be really good if Anne Main were to let voters know the sources of the funds to prepare for the next election and in particular to be open about the proportion that comes from people who do not pay full UK taxes.

If that information is not available, I would suggest that we have a democratic problem.

PETER ST JOHN STOKES

Camlet Way, St Albans


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